Alexandra J. Zachwieja, PhD

Assistant Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Alexandra J. Zachwieja

Contact Info

Office Phone 218-726-6316

Office Address:
DMed Biomedical Sciences
Smed 205
1035 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812-3031

Mailing Address:
DMED Biomedical Sciences
208 SMed
1035 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812

Assistant Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Department of Biomedical Sciences

Miller Research Fellowship for Biological Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2017

PhD, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2019

MA, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015

BA, Anthropology, Cum Laude, Highest Departmental Distinction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013


I am an anatomist, biological anthropologist and field researcher. My research focuses on human evolutionary anatomy, paleoecology, and human dispersal patterns in Southeast Asia during the past 80,000 years. Specifically, I investigate how climate, environment, and competition for resources may have influenced initial human dispersal pathways to Australia. I use paleoclimate niche modeling and GIS with the goal of increasing the success of traditional fossil survey methods. I am also a National Geographic Explorer and, since 2014, have been a part of an international team of researchers doing human origins excavations in the Lao PDR in concert with the Lao Ministry of Heritage, Culture, and Tourism, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the Musee de l’Homme, Paris.


Human Gross Anatomy, Human Evolutionary Anatomy, Paleoanthropology

Awards & Recognition

2015, Beckman Institute Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence Award

Professional Associations

  • American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013-present)
  • Paleoanthropological Society (2017-present)
  • American Anatomical Association (2018-present)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (2018-present)


Research Funding Grants


  • National Geographic Early Career Grant NGS 378R-18
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
  • UIUC Graduate College Block Grant


  • Explorer’s Club Exploration Fund Grant


  • Zachwieja AJ, Demeter F, Bacon A-M, Nguyen TMH, Nguyen AT, Westaway K, Duringer P, Ponche J-L, Patole-Edoumba E, Sichanthongtip P, Sayavongkhamdy, Dunn TE, Shackelford LL (2020). Understanding Late Pleistocene human land preference using ecological niche models in an Australasian test case. Quaternary International. 563 (13-28).
  • Bourgon N, Jaouen K, Bacon A-M, Jochum KP, Dufour E, Duringer P, Ponche J-L, Joannes-Boyau R, Boesch Q, Antoine PO, Hullot M, Weis U, Schulz-Kornas E, Trost M, Fiorillo D, Demeter F, Patole-Edoumba E, Shackelford L, Dunn T, Zachwieja A, Duangthongchit S, Sayavonkhamdy T, Sichanthongtip P, Sihanam D, Souksavatdy V, Hublin J-J, Tütken T. (2020). Zinc isotopes in Late Pleistocene fossil teeth from a Southeast Asian cave setting preserve paleodietary information. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Demeter F, Shackelford L, Westaway K, Barnes L, Duringer P, Dumoncel J, Sénégas F, Ponche J-L, Sayavongkhamdy T, Zhao J-X, Sichanthongtip P, Patole-Edoumba E, Dunn T, Zachwieja A, Coppens Y, Bacon A-M. (2017) Tam Pa Ling, Laos: A milestone in the early human fossil record from mainland Southeast Asia. Current Anthropology 58(17).


Teaching Areas

Functional Gross Anatomy